In the State of Ohio, marijuana is legal for medical use but is illegal for recreational or adult use. As such, qualified patients who have received physician recommendations can legally use cannabis to treat debilitating medical conditions in any location in the state. An effort to legalize recreational marijuana in the state in 2015 has previously failed by quite a large margin. The Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative was the ballot measure introduced to legalize recreational marijuana, but it failed to pass after receiving about 36% of the ballot. Recreational marijuana may be legal in Ohio soon as activists have submitted a ballot measure proposal that will be decided upon in 2023.
Marijuana was legalized for medical use in 2016 when Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 523 in law. HB523 created the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program and legalized the medical use of marijuana in the state. It sets up the system by which the state licenses and regulates the different aspects of medical marijuana, from cultivation and processing to end-user sales. This includes the growing facilities, testing labs, physician certifications, patient and caregiver registrations, processors, and retail dispensaries. All these aspects are regulated by different state departments for the medical marijuana control program;
The Ohio Department of Commerce regulates the cultivation, processing, and testing of medical marijuana in the state.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy regulates the licensing of retail dispensaries in the state and maintains the patient and caregiver registry.
The Ohio Medical Board maintains the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana and certifies physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients in the state.
Patients who have received recommendations from certified physicians can register with the state medical marijuana program to obtain a registry identification card. A medical marijuana registry identification card enables the holder to purchase medical marijuana from any local dispensaries licensed to operate in the state. Patients with valid medical marijuana cards can possess up to 90 days' supply of medical cannabis for their personal use. The patient's supply of medical cannabis can be in the form of creams, edibles, flowers, lotions, oils, patches, or tinctures. HB523 stipulates that cannabis must be consumed in private spaces and not in public view. Cannabis also can not be legally smoked in Ohio as the law does not approve this. Patients who wish to consume cannabis flowers must use vaporization equipment or make homemade edibles to do so legally. Patients are also not allowed to cultivate marijuana or make hash or concentrate in their homes.
Marijuana has been legal in Ohio, for medical purposes, since 2016. The legalization Act instituted detailed procedures for licensing and regulating the different processes involved in providing legal medical marijuana. The Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) administers the state program in conjunction with the Department of Commerce and the State Medical and Pharmacy Boards.
Medical marijuana purchases in Ohio are subject to a 5.75% state sales tax and local county taxes that raise taxes to between 6.5% and 7.25%. The MMCP periodically releases an update on medical marijuana usage in the state, with the latest available for December 2022. Since medical marijuana became available for sale, the total sales climbed from $471.2 million in July 2021 to $1.09 billion as of November 2022. This consisted of 130,288 lbs of plant material and 12,110,472 units of processed cannabis products. According to a Ohio State University report, total sales tax revenue recorded by the Ohio Department of Taxation as of March 2021 is $18,996,275. Local sales tax received at the same time amounts to $4,825,748. Other revenues generated through medical marijuana legalization include licensing fees and patients/caregivers which are $28,400,000 and $12,500,000, respectively. Generally, the revenues generated from the sale of medical marijuana are used to fund various programs and initiatives. These include:
Research on the use of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes
Educational campaigns on the safe and responsible use of medical marijuana
Substance abuse treatment and prevention programs
Grants for local governments to support drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Marijuana laws in Ohio also make provisions for cultivators, processors, test laboratories, and retail dispensaries. As of December 2022, the total number of these were as follows:
|Provisional Licenses||Certificate Of Operations|
|Cultivators||37 (23 Lv.1; 14 Lv.2)||31 (19 Lv.1; 12 Lv.2)|
Legalizing marijuana for recreational use can lead to high tax revenues, job opportunities, and crime reduction. A 2021 research estimated that the state may collect more than $400 million after the first year of legalization.
Medical marijuana became legal in Ohio in 2016, enabling residents with valid registry identification cards to possess and use marijuana products. The law also made provision for the legal cultivation, processing, testing, and sales of marijuana in the state through licensing and regulation. Cultivating, processing, and selling marijuana without licenses from the regulatory authorities is illegal in the state. Possession of under 100g of cannabis has been decriminalized in the state, but possession of over 200g of cannabis is a felony.
In 2014, prior to the legalization of medical marijuana, the FBI Crime Data Explorer revealed there were 19,063 marijuana-related arrests in the state. This consisted of 17,981 arrests for possession and 1,082 arrests for sales/distribution. In the first year of legalization (2016), arrests for possession had dropped to 17,714 (-1.48%), and arrests for sales had dropped to 1,017 (-6%). This represented a total decrease of 1.74% in marijuana arrests in the state, suggesting a downward trend in marijuana arrests. In 2021, local law enforcers made more than 6000 arrests for illegal marijuana possession and 219 arrests for marijuana sales crimes.
Marijuana had been widely cultivated in the United States since the late-1700s, mostly as hemp for ropes, fibers, and clothes. An influx of Mexican immigrants in the early 20th century saw a proliferation of smokable marijuana, which resulted in a clampdown by the authorities. The federal government amended the 1907 Poison Act to include marijuana in 1913, which led several states, including Ohio, to enact state-level laws criminalizing marijuana. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively prohibited cannabis in the United States except for medicinal and industrial uses. However, the fees and procedures instituted by the law made its usage very rare. The U.S. Supreme Court struck out the Marihuana Tax Act in 1969, citing its violation of citizens' Fifth Amendment rights. This led to its repeal and replacement with the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. The Controlled Substances Act listed cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, implying it had no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse. This prohibited the possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana for any purpose.
Through the 1970s, there was a series of decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis by several states. This was partly due to a change in attitudes following the Vietnam War and partly to reduce the pressure on law enforcement resources. In 1975, Ohio decriminalized marijuana possession of up to 100g (3.5 oz) to a minor misdemeanor with the maximum penalty of a $100 fine. There were no other measures to legalize marijuana in the state until 2015 when a ballot measure was introduced at the polls. The Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Issue 3, sought to:
Legalize recreational marijuana use and sales for adults in Ohio
Allow the cultivation of cannabis on a commercial scale
Allow adults to possess up to 1 oz. of commercially purchased cannabis and up to 8 oz. of homegrown cannabis.
Allow the cultivation of up to 4 plants by licensed persons in their private residences.
The measure failed to pass by a 65-35 margin against at the polls. The measure's plan to monopolize the production of cannabis made its support among legalization activists quite tepid.
In 2016, the Ohio legislature enacted and passed House Bill 523, which was signed into law by Governor John Kasich on June 8. The Act legalized the cultivation, processing, dispensing, testing, and possession of marijuana for medical purposes in the state. It established the Medical Marijuana Control Program and set up a state-licensed system that oversees the growing, testing, processing, and retail dispensing of cannabis. It also established databases for certified physicians, patients, and caregivers and authorized different state departments to regulate and maintain the different aspects of the program.
Another voters’ initiative titled ‘An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis’ may appear on the ballot in November 2023. The initiative proposal, which seeks to legalize marijuana possession for adults aged 21 and above, was initially submitted in 2021. Unfortunately, the measure did not appear on the 2022 November ballot due to the timing of submitted signatures. Resubmission of signatures that would make the measure eligible for voting will take place in January 2023. If certified, Ohio voters will be able to vote and ensure recreational marijuana is legal. Until then, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Ohio.